People story

How we live and breathe innovation

Innovations are key to the success of a company for the following reason: Long-term growth is only possible if you are open to new ideas, continually develop and do not stand still. The great challenge is to also actually live and breathe this spirit in the company. Ultimately, innovation is based not simply on implementing a corresponding process – what is key is that innovative thinking is enshrined in the corporate culture. How is that working for us at Rohde & Schwarz? We asked Dr. Sherif Ahmed, Director of the Inno Lab in Munich.

Sherif Ahmed

“Once employees have been involved in an innovation project, they go back to their teams as a new person!”

Dr. Sherif Ahmed

Dr. Ahmed, you’re a co-founder of all new innovation units at Rohde & Schwarz – from the Inno Funnel to the Inno Lab. How are these different units connected?

You can think of the Inno Funnel as a primary funnel into which the product and business ideas of our employees can flow. If an idea is submitted in the funnel, the Inno Hub then provides intensive assistance in evaluating it and presenting it to the Inno Board. If the Inno Board wishes to take the idea forward, a business case is then developed for it to determine its potential and the necessary costs. For persuasive business cases, the Inno Lab then prepares a “proof of concept”. “Rapid prototypes” will be used in this process to test whether the idea is practicable – whether it will fly. If all these measures suggest that the idea is promising, the know-how gained will be provided to the relevant subdivisions for the purpose of enabling a new product development.

Did you feel it was a challenge to launch a new initiative at Rohde & Schwarz that pushes innovation even more strongly?

Yes and no. Rohde & Schwarz has had an infrastructure for dynamic innovative behavior for a long time. And there have always been great programs that dealt with the ideas and innovations of our employees. The great challenge is to establish a process that is embedded throughout the company. We therefore intend to use our Inno Funnel to drive our efforts to ensure that even more use is made of the existing infrastructure and expertise at Rohde & Schwarz.

How are you doing that?

By using the Inno Funnel as a means both to offer financing options and to provide the corresponding manpower. This enables us to test good ideas and, in the best case, to also actually implement them.

What does this manpower look like specifically?

Firstly, there are permanent employees in the Inno Funnel, and secondly, a separate project team is put together for each idea. The process involves selecting employees who would be suitable for a specific project. However, external partners such as universities or research institutes can also be involved. Basically there’s no set recipe – the specific support that is required varies depending on the case.

Does that mean that as a Rohde & Schwarz employee, you can also collaborate in innovation projects outside your own department?

Yes, our infrastructure allows this kind of flexibility, which at the same time offers one great advantage: Employees can gain experience in an extremely wide range of areas as a result, think outside the box, and return to their teams as a new person with a wealth of new knowledge. And incidentally, employees expand their networks, and that’s how we all make a living at the end of the day – by networking.

What motivates you in particular in your work as Director of the Inno Lab?

The culture of openness at Rohde & Schwarz: We are flexible, welcome new ideas and improvements, and want to learn new things. In addition, Rohde & Schwarz is absolutely state of the art – this is the place where fascinating technologies that we use to introduce unique products to the world are developed.

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